Limited audience, band enjoy first concert at The Amp in Vail this summer |

Limited audience, band enjoy first concert at The Amp in Vail this summer

This year's COVID-friendly iteration of Hot Summer Nights was been extremely popular, with tickets selling out quickly.
Chris Dillmann |

A little rain couldn’t dampen the excitement for the first live music at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater this summer. A smaller crowd of over 100 people enjoyed Andrew McConathy and The Drunken Hearts for about two hours on Tuesday night at The Amp, opening up the free Hot Summer Nights concert series. And the band itself enjoyed seeing faces in the crowd again.

“We’re actually going to play a concert,” lead singer McConathy told the crowd. “That’s a beautiful feeling, especially in my hometown of Vail, Colorado.”

With rain moving in and a couple of no-shows, the small audience on the lawn mostly moved into the seating area with cover from the amphitheater — socially distanced with at least four seats separating groups.

When McConathy thanked the crowd for being there, a man in the top row thanked him back — loud enough for the whole amphitheater to hear as The Amp is limiting its live music events to 175 people. There was also a waitlist of about 100 people wanting to join, so for those who reserved the free tickets but didn’t show — what a shame.

The Amp live-streamed the show, and will be live-streaming its performances moving forward. Follow the GRFA on Facebook and Youtube to stay tuned.

More than 45 employees worked the event, from concessions to ushers to security to people wiping down surfaces including hand rails frequently throughout the show.

Local Jon Resnick was in attendance with a group of four friends. He said he’d been to a drive-in concert, but Tuesday was his first “real concert” in a while.

“A little strange, as are the times,” he said via text, as a barrier separated The Amp into an east and west section to maintain distancing, “but really nice to see live music and enjoy it with friends.”

The show was underwritten by Donna Giordano — the 2020 Vail Valley Citizen of the Year recipient. The town of Vail and local health officials also helped live music return to The Amp.

This summer, The Amp is offering its free Hot Summer Nights concerts on Tuesdays; movie nights on Saturdays; and Bravo! Vail will be performing four Thursdays starting this week.

“It takes a lot of people to make this work, but we’re going to keep doing it as long as we can,” The Amp Director Tom Boyd told the audience while opening up the show, adding information about the Turn Up The Amp fundraising efforts all summer long.

Visit for tickets, COVID-19 protocols or more information about The Amp in Vail.

Live from the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail with Director Tom Boyd talking summer at The Amp. #LIVE4GoPro

Posted by Vail Daily on Monday, July 13, 2020

At Tuesday night’s show, The Drunken Hearts brought in special guest Reverend “The Rev” Matthew Rieger, guitarist for The Lil Smokies. McConathy conversed with Rieger over the mic, saying these days it sometimes feels like they’re not in a band.

“Well, I feel like I’m in a band tonight,” Rieger excitedly said, with his long locks flowing freely.

Jessica Jones, out of Denver, helped close out the concert with her beautiful, powerful voice complementing the band.

The crowd was up on its feet dancing, well away from other guests, and masks are required when entering and leaving the venue, at the concessions and other common areas — not required in seats. For a smaller crowd, more intimate crowd, they sure made a lot of noise showing their appreciation to the band and the venue.

“One thing I’ve noticed that’s really different is the people who are there are individually a lot more into it than they were before because they feel they need to make up for the noise and know it’s live-streamed with people tuning in from around the world,” Vilar Performing Arts Center Director Duncan Horner said, as we was helping as an usher at The Amp on Tuesday.

The Vilar Center at Beaver Creek’s Ghost Light Series has been happening on Thursdays and will continue into August, featuring a limited crowd at the venue and streaming online to anywhere from 1,000 to 30,000 people. The Vilar Center at Beaver Creek is a sister venue of The Amp in Vail.

“Live music is very important to all of us and we’re so glad the VPAC and GRFA are able to offer that,” Boyd said. “The reason that we’re sister venues is because we’re both part of the Vail Valley Foundation. Please get to know us more, learn more about the Vail Valley Foundation if you don’t already know and help support all the work we’re doing in art, athletics and education.”

For more information about the Vail Valley Foundation, visit Visit for information about the Vilar Center (and follow it on social media for updates and performances). Visit for more about The Amp’s summer offerings (and follow it, too, on social media).

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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